HEALTH MAT­TERS

Macclesfield Express - - MACCLESFIELD PEOPLE -

●● DR Paul Bowen, GP with McIlvride Med­i­cal Prac­tice, Poynton, and Ex­ec­u­tive Chair of NHS East­ern Cheshire Clin­i­cal Com­mis­sion­ing Group (CCG)

LAST week was Cer­vi­cal Can­cer Aware­ness Week, an an­nual cam­paign which aims to high­light the im­por­tance of cer­vi­cal screen­ing and how at­tend­ing what used to be called a smear test can help to pre­vent cer­vi­cal can­cer.

The smear is usu­ally car­ried out by a prac­tice nurse and takes just a few min­utes.

Cer­vi­cal screen­ing pre­vents 75 per cent of cer­vi­cal can­cers from de­vel­op­ing in the UK yet one in four women do not at­tend cer­vi­cal screen­ing when in­vited.

In­deed, 76.7 per cent of el­i­gi­ble women in East­ern Cheshire women at­tended screen­ing in 2015, which while around four per cent above the Eng­land av­er­age, is still a slight drop on the pre­vi­ous year.

Women who do not take up screen­ing in­vi­ta­tions are putting their lives at risk, as not at­tend­ing screen­ing is one of the big­gest risk fac­tors for de­vel­op­ing cer­vi­cal can­cer.

Women aged 25 to 49 years of age are of­fered screen­ing ev­ery three years, while women aged 50 to 64 are of­fered screen­ing ev­ery five years.

If you are in this age range and have not taken up your in­vi­ta­tion for screen­ing, please do con­tact your prac­tice, where a prac­tice nurse or GP will be happy to talk you through the sim­ple process.

I must stress that cer­vi­cal can­cer is largely pre­ventable and, if caught early, sur­vival rates are high – which is why it is so im­por­tant to take up the of­fer of screen­ing.

When symp­toms do ap­pear, they nor­mally in­clude ab­nor­mal bleed­ing, un­usual dis­charge and pain dur­ing sex.

Women who have ex­pe­ri­enced these symp­toms should talk to their GP. Chances are it won’t be cer­vi­cal can­cer but it is bet­ter to get it checked out.

For younger women, there is now a vac­ci­na­tion against the hu­man pa­pil­lo­mavirus (HPV) in­fec­tion that causes changes to the cer­vi­cal cells that can lead to can­cer.

The vac­cine can help pre­vent 70pc of cer­vi­cal can­cers.

For more in­for­ma­tion about cer­vi­cal screen­ing, visit nhs.uk/Con­di­tions/ Cer­vi­cal-screen­ing-test/ Pages/In­tro­duc­tion.aspx.

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